Enterprise could lead to new jobs and investment

Thousands of new jobs and investment totalling millions of pounds are on the wishlist for those involved with the Blackpool Enterprise Zone.

More than 30 delegates heard a speech from Rob Green, Head of Enterprise and Investment at Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre EDC as part of the Chamber’s ‘Meet Your Neighbour’ networking event on Tuesday.

The audience also heard from Stephen Chalcraft, a principal lawyer from Slater & Gordon’s commercial real estate team, who spoke about how the public sector can engage to create more effective Enterprise Zones.

Mr Green’s update began with the news that the current Enterprise Zone at Squires Gate Industrial Estate, which features an existing Category 3 airport and business/industrial estates, will remain active until 2040.

Five main sectors are being targeted for job creation: energy; food and drink manufacturing; digital and creative; advanced manufacturing; and aviation and airspace – although he joked anything else which creates jobs would also be welcome.

Mr Green also explained how the benefits of the zone included business rates relief and enhanced capital allowances.

The former comes into force on Friday this week and is available to businesses occupying the Enterprise Zone between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2023.

The business rates allowance is also worth up to £275,000 over a five-year period.

In terms of the enhanced capital allowances, those will be available to companies occupying premises between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2023.

It also means that, subject to an individual business assessment, companies will be able to reclaim the cost of fixed plant and machinery up to 125m Euros against tax over one year.

The Enterprise Zone will be managed by BFWEDC, who are hopeful of 3,000 potential jobs having been created by 2030, at which point it is also hoped 140 new businesses would be on site.

Mr Green also outlined that the Enterprise Zone could bring in a potential private sector investment of £300m, as well as a possible 175,000 square metres’ worth of new or refurbished commercial or industrial floorspace.

The next step now, however, is a four-way process which will see: the commissioning of a full site masterplan; the establishment of an operational agreement with central Government; a full assessment and prioritisation of on and off-site infrastructure; and wider stakeholder agreement.

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